Spinning Science Kiwi Crate

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Here’s our unboxing of Travis’s latest arrival from Kiwi Crate, with projects devoted to angular momentum (otherwise known as spinning!). We give this one high marks for science and art, both.

First we needed to assemble a few Stacking Tops from the provided plastic pins and wooden discs.

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These were neat since Travis could mix and match the sizes of discs (labeled 1 through 4 from smallest to largest) and see how this affected the way they would spin. Little sister Veronika wanted to try her hand at building a top, too!

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The different pegs spin differently, for added experimentation. Blue ones spin in place, whereas the green ones could skitter across a table, making for lots of squeals of delight.

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Once the tops are made, you can move on to Spinning Top Games. Travis helped assemble a launcher, which is a wooden arm fastened to a weighted cup.

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The tops slot up into the arm, and when you pull the felt release, should ideally spin well when they hit the ground. Unfortunately, we found the mechanism to be a bit faulty and had better luck just spinning by hand!

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Travis then made a frame for the games from wooden pieces that slot together like a jigsaw puzzle. The first game was called Point Walk: Spin the top and score a point for every time it “walks” across the colored dots on the game board. Travis’s high score was 8!

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The second game was Pom-Pom Knockdown, for which we placed the provided small pom-poms in piles. Launch the top, then see if you can make the pom-poms fly off the frame. Travis thought it was so funny every time a pom-pom went skittering.

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We set aside the games and turned to a very STEM-based Top Experiment. If Travis attached the blue peg to a provided disc and then added various wooden weights, he could record differences in how long the top could spin.

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Kids can use a stopwatch and pencil to record results, making this feel like a real “lab” experiment. Quite honestly, everyone was wowed when the version with the most balanced weights spun a full 31 seconds, whereas our other attempts averaged about 8 seconds.

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For some art in all this, the final project was to use a plastic top as a Doodle Top. The provided mini markers fit right into this plastic spinner, and we placed a piece of provided circular paper under the wooden game frame. Give it a spin and make some swirly art!

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Unfortunately we never got this top to spin for long (I’m not sure if that was due to a faulty top or the fault of our spinning abilities), resulting only one time in what could be called a doodle, and mostly getting scratchy scribbles.

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However, Travis liked the suggestion to see if he could turn the doodle into something recognizable. I loved watching him trace the lines and then tell me this was a Person, a Sun Pig, and a Dancing Flower.

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Kiwi almost always provides a suggestion to upcycle the crate that all these fantastic materials come in, and this month was no different. Travis traced circles onto the lid of the cardboard box, and I cut them out. Kids can get as artistic as they want decorating the resulting circles, although Travis was more interested in the next step.

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Poke a hole in the center, then wedge in a coin (quarters work best). Give this Box Top Coin Top a twirl!

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Explore magazine had lots of great info on the science behind spinning, as well as a quick Toppling Coin Top experiment: Simply place on a coin on a surface and let go; of course it plops down immediately. But if Travis gave it a spin first… angular momentum keeps it up!

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We couldn’t end the fun without edible tops, of course, namely Apple-Top Tops. Use a tablespoon to carve little semi-circles from an apple, then insert lollipop sticks into the skin side of each piece. The kids loved these little fruit “lollipops”, as well as testing out their spin-ability!

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Overall, an excellent crate from Kiwi Co that we highly recommend. Cheers!

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Look with Me Panda Crate

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Veronika’s latest box from Panda Crate was about the way toddlers learn hand-eye coordination, as well as visual tracking skills, visual discrimination, and more. In other words, there are so many ways to learn to use our eyes! I would recommend this crate for toddlers aged 22 months and up.

One: Wood Rainbow

The first item was a beautiful 3-D puzzle of three interlocking pieces that formed a rainbow. First, we placed it on the ground and I encouraged her to trace the smooth arced shape. It was easy for her to fit the pieces together lying flat…

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…but could she do so once they were upright? She could!

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It’s fun to sing any rainbow song you know as your toddler makes it all come together. You can also talk about bigger and smaller, with regards to the various arcs. Veronika invented her own way to play with the pieces, too, building little forts and houses for her toy figures, and I loved seeing her imagination at work!

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Finally, there is a wooden ball in the crate and she could bowl this at the rainbow and knock the pieces over for some classic cause-and-effect.

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Two: Spin-and-Slide Board

This was a busy board in miniature, and let me first say that it is perfect for car rides and I give Panda huge props for it! One side features a scene with a bird and pinwheels, and the reverse had a caterpillar and ladybug, all with gears that spin and knobs that slide.

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Veronika was enamored with the images, which were great for counting (1 bird but 2 pinwheels) or playing “I spy”. This is going to be in the diaper bag for car trips from now on!

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Three: Ramp Racer

Back to that wooden ball; it also paired with a wooden ramp in the crate. Your toddler can simply have fun rolling the ball down, or aim it at a tunnel made of the rainbow puzzle pieces. Next, Veronika practiced rolling the ball up, or rolling it on different surfaces (rug vs. smooth floor) for an early lesson on big concepts like friction.

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She loved using it as a playground “slide” for toy figures, too!

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Four: Butterfly Drop

This item was a fast favorite, and I was so glad to see it included because it was a mini at-home version of an activity she loves at our local children’s museum.

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Toddlers drop the provided wooden butterfly into the frame and watch it bounce down on the pegs. Of course those toddler eyes are honing their visual tracking skills, while mesmerized! I challenged her to catch the butterfly at the bottom, to insert it right side up or upside down, and more.

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Plus we talked about the great noise it made on the pegs: plunk plunk plunk!

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Five: Board Book

The book this month featured Poppy Panda giving chase to a duckling. Veronika loved the story, demanding many reads and reading it solo, so I can’t complain!

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The Wonder booklet featured lots of helpful parental info, like playful ways to hone visual tracking (think: trains on tracks, ramps, balloons, and threading), and pediatric advice on children and glasses.

We followed up with a few Beyond the Crate activities:

Pillow Path: This classic way to build a toddler’s gross motor skills and spatial awareness never gets old. I lined up our couch pillows in two lines with an empty “corridor” between and held her hand as she ran through.

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For more of a challenge, next she walked on top of the pillow bumpers! Of course then she wanted to play on the pillows and roll around for quite a while.

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Bubble Burster: Bubbles also never grow old!

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To tie in with the Look theme of the crate, this time we focused on tracking the bubbles with our eyes and popping them with fingers.

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On a Roll: This suggestion was exactly like a recent rolling game Veronika and I played; we made a diamond with our feet and rolled a ball back and forth.

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The sing along this month was a shortened version of Five Little Ducks, an old favorite. Act it out and pretend to be ducks: your toddler is the duckling and you give chase, or vice versa!

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To round out the fun with books all about looking and noticing, we read:

Busy Firehouse by Rebecca Flynn

I Spy Little Book by Jean Morzollo

I Can Play by Betsy Snyder

Short and Tall Tubes

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Here’s an easy hands-on way for toddlers to hone their concept of short and tall! I saved up toilet paper tubes and paper towel tubes for about a week, then cut the collection into varying lengths so we had six sizes ranging from shortest to tallest. You can invite your toddler to decorate these with markers, or do as I did and cover in pretty patterned paper.

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First, I simply set out the tubes for Veronika to observe and play with. When I asked her to find me the shortest…

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…she could! Likewise for the tallest.

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For added fun, we read a favorite book about height (Usborne Book’s Taller and Shorter), which compares the heights of animals. Veronika and I pretended each tube was an animal and lined them up in a row as the story went on!

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When I asked her if she could sort all six tubes from shortest to tallest, the concept was clearly too advanced for her, so much so that she sort of tuned out the question.

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That said, she was able to tell the comparative size between two tubes easily (which was shorter, which was taller), and we’ll work up to the next step eventually!

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Rope Games

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Over the summer, we used a long rope simply as a boredom buster, and games with it filled almost an entire morning. Today I tailored rope play specifically to my toddler while big brother was in school. Any jump rope will work for this activity, or even just a long piece of regular rope.

First, I wanted to see if it she could walk across it like a balance beam. Easy-peasy!

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But could she follow the rope if we made it zigzag? This was definitely more of a challenge, but Veronika worked hard to get one foot in front of the other along the twists.

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Next, I challenged her to cross the rope using her body in different ways. She could hop over it, step across it, or even crawl on it.

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From here, she found her own ways to play with the rope. She thought the handles looked like microphones and wanted to sing into them.

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Then she began dragging the rope around like a snake or a puppy leash. When it tangled at her feet, she gave a jump over it, almost a precursor to jumping rope!

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She also loved holding both ends and pretending she was a butterfly, fluttering the strands in each hand.

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I loved that she came up with her own gross motor ways to use a rope, including some I never imagined!